U.S. Commandos Lost The Element Of Surprise In The Failed Yemen Rescue Raid

U.S. Commandos Lost The Element Of Surprise In The Failed Yemen Rescue Raid


Gordon Lubold, writing on the December 6, 2014 website DefenseOne.com, notes that “about 40 commandos rushed into a compound in central Yemen, in a second attempt to rescue American hostage Luke Somers on Friday; but, the special operators lost the element of surprise,” and Somers and a South African hostage were both shot and killed by their captors — before they could be rescued,’ according to Department of Defense officials. “This was difficult terrain to get to; and, a well-defined compound,” a defense official told reporters traveling with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on his surprise visit to Afghanistan this weekend. “The official noted that the members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — the organization holding Somers, were likely “on edge, were clearly more alert” because of the first attempt to rescue Somers last month. A second rescue attempt would have been that much harder to pull off.” Mr. Lubold wrote.

“And, there would have been less time to plan the mission,” Mr. Lubold wrote, which was moved up when intelligence sources indicated that AQAP had threatened to kill Somers Saturday, might kill him sooner. A video posted online this past weekend showed Somers a freelance photographer asking [pleading] for help because he thought he would be killed. With little to lose, the mission planners asked for the approval to conduct the mission. First Hagel, then Obama approved it [the rescue mission] mid-morning Friday. The U.S. operation was done in coordination with Yemen officials,” defense officials said.

“Hours later, commandos landed in CV-22 Ospreys at the compound sometime Friday evening in an area known as Shabwah Governate in central Yemen. The commandos jumped out of the planes and ran about 100 meters, to where they knew Somers was being held. Mission planners suspected there might be a second hostage with Somers, but they couldn’t be sure it was.”

“The most difficult part of the mission,” said a defense official, lay in the first five to ten minutes after the commandos landed — and, a firefight broke out. The special forces were only on the ground another 20 minutes before rescuing both Somers, and another South African Pierre Korki — both of whom later died from wounds suffered at the hands of their captors. “When the element of surprise was lost, we believe that is when they were murdered,” said a defense official. “They were shot nearly immediately.”

“At least five militants/captors were also killed in the raid; but, unfortunately, none were captured. There were no American casualties/wounded.”

It is unfortunate that we were not able to successfully free the hostages; and/or, capture at least one of the militants. But, I firmly believe that this is the appropriate way to respond to hostage taking — of any kind. Paying ransom is offensive; and, isn’t the answer. At least with these raids, the militants will now have to keep one eye open over their shoulder and always on their toes — something that is hard to do over a sustained period of time. It is also labor intensive. I am proud that America views this strategy as the best and honorable way to respond to the Islamic State’s kidnapping campaign. You won’t receive ransom money from us; but, you will likely get a bullet to eat. Take that to the bank — ISIS! V/R, RCP

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